Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 22
Over the past two years, China has been adopting military posturing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India before or after any major event.
A rapid movement of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) occurred just after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. The PLA again quickly relocated its troops, tanks and guns after the Indian Army occupied the heights at Rechin La in August 2020. Yet again, there was a PLA movement just as the Quad was getting ready for a physical meeting in the US in September 2021. This time, a division of some 15,000 men moved. In all scenarios, eastern Ladakh was put under pressure.
LAC Build-up in 2019
- China ramped up military-related infra near LAC in Aug 2019, just after J&K was bifurcated into two UTs
- 170 armoured vehicles bolstered Chinese positions facing Indian troops in Ladakh
China ramped up military-related infrastructure near the border in August 2019, just after the state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two UTs – J&K and Ladakh.
Authoritative sources said the speed of the movement indicated advanced planning. Some 170 armoured vehicles had started moving in batches to bolster Chinese positions facing Indian troops stationed in eastern Ladakh.
A US department of defence report “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” released three weeks ago said: “The build-up and establishment of forward positions along the LAC provided the PLA with valuable real-world operational and tactical experience.” The PLA also fielded integrated units at multiple places to enable lateral and cross-service communication required for joint operations, the report said. An Indian assessment says since China formed theatre commands of its own in 2016, it has had only one exercise in 2018 in Tibet and that focused on long-distance manoeuvres.
China has been constantly making improvements in its infrastructure. A substantial reserve force from the Tibet and Xinjiang military districts were deployed in the interior of Western China to provide rapid response.
At the height of the border standoff, the PLA installed a fibre optic network in remote areas of the western Himalayas (facing eastern Ladakh) to provide faster communications.
From the Indian perspective, two posts near Burtse, that is west of what is called the ‘bottleneck’ in Sub- Sector North (SSN) in eastern Ladakh, are holding back the PLA to its side. At the SSN, which comprises the 970-sq km Depsang Plateau and the Daulat Beg Oldi, India has added numbers, equipment and surveillance.
Though both sides have agreed to start the de-escalation process, PLA units are stationed around the Pangong Tso, a 135-km-wide glacial lake. Some 35-40 per cent of the lake bank area is under Indian control while the rest is under Chinese occupation.
North of Arunachal, China has increased the number of its military exercises. It has also marginally added troops and troop habitat on its side.
The number and the duration of annual training exercises of the PLA have gone up.
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